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Eugene M. Huff
Funeral Time: Sunday, October 13th at 3:00PM
Huff, Gene “Coach” On September 25th Coach Gene Huff, at the age of 93, peacefully passed on into his next journey, surrounded by family and the caring staff of the Thomson-Hood Veterans Center in Wilmore, Kentucky. An ordinary man, he lived an epic life with fierce determination and intensity. Always kind to children and nature’s creatures, he saw everyday encounters as a gift. As recently as this past summer, Gene offered coaching advice to any child he saw wearing a uniform. While his life’s fuel was found within the sports he coached—always appearing bold and commanding with his players and students—he found his zen in gardening, golf, carpentry, daughters and grandchildren. Gene met love’s precious light through his wife, Libby Ann Baker. Married at eighteen just before Gene’s WWII tour of duty and lasting 67 years, he treasured her love, wanting to just begin again with her and “do it all over, the same way.” When recently asked what he was most proud of in life he replied, “That Libby would have me, always, everything else was a gift from her.” Libby and Gene presented the best of the Greatest Generation, not just when our country demanded so much from them, but in the everydayness of life—raising two daughters, teaching students, being good neighbors, and tending to their world always with a kind and loving touch. During Army Paratrooper service in WWII and Korea, Gene honed his skills navigating young men. These skills would continue as he shaped young athletes’ lives at Lafollette High School (Tennessee 1950-1951), The University School (University of Kentucky 1956-1965), and the University of Kentucky (College of Education, Health Physical Education & Recreation 1965-1991). If you met him once, he was your mentor before you knew it, connecting you with people that would support your dreams, goals, or launch your career. After graduating from Young High School (Knoxville, TN) in 1944, Gene played football for the University of Tennessee before being drafted into the Army, and then played again for Wofford College (Spartanburg, SC) upon his return. Gene and Libby finally settled in Lexington, Kentucky in 1956. Within their family, Gene was the jalapeno sauce, and Libby was the peach cobbler. Daughters Gena and Melinda were more than blessed to be a part of the Libby and Gene team. Gene spent 15 years in sweltering summer heat, umpiring behind the plate for Morton’s Eastern Little League. Many of his Morton Basketball League “Gophers” will never forget how they took the court with UK’s exact layup weave warm-up drill, looking like twelve-year-old superstars while “Sweet Georgia Brown” whistled in the background. His coaching career spanned 41 years and beyond to his four grandchildren and their sports. Long after his career was complete, his grandchildren could still drop his name and opportunity doors would open as he was a respected professor, coach, mentor, and friend to many. Survivors include two daughters, Gena Elizabeth (Daniel) Ewen and Melinda Huff Kelly, both of Lexington, KY; four grandchildren Hunter (Megan) Ewen of Columbus, OH, Bret Ewen of Quebec, Canada, Katelin (Josh) Kelly Torres of Austin, TX, and Rebecca (Mitchell) Kelly Martin of Lexington, KY; two sisters Bettie Huff (Tony) Bowden of Antioch, TN and Inez Huff Rice of Franklin, TN; one sister-in-law Margie Huff of Knoxville, TN; and numerous nieces and nephews. Gene was preceded in death by his parents Horace Clarence and Florence Lilian Lind Huff of Knoxville, TN, wife Elizabeth Ann Baker Huff of Lexington, KY, brothers Denton (Barbara) Huff and Shelby Huff, both of Knoxville, TN. The family acknowledges our deepest appreciation and admiration to our kind and loving friend Carla Aldridge. Gratitude for every neighbor and friend that supported Gene, and kept a loving watchful eye on him in elder years. Salutes to the THVC dearest comrades in care and special friends C.D., Bobby, Bill and Cheek. Endearing thanks to all of Gene’s U-High and UK students that always remained in contact with him, as you were his encouragement and settled peace that his life’s work made a difference. A Memorial Service will be held at 3:00pm on Sunday, October 13th with visitation preceding from 1:00 to 3:00pm at Kerr Brothers Funeral Home, 3421 Harrodsburg Road, Lexington, KY. Burial will take place at 11:00am on Monday, October 14th at the Lexington Cemetery, please gather near the gates just prior to 11:00am, 833 W. Main Street.
If, in the horizon of your mind, you hear an umpire’s call “Got ’im out!” Or a coach’s training voice “Follow through!” Or a loving Father’s encouragement “Make the sweet spot of that racquet sing!” It is just Gene Huff calling his last play. In lieu of flowers, buy a child a ball, a scholarship, a camp spot, or sponsor a team and introduce young athletes to the crack of the bat, the spiral pass, the swish of the net, and the discovery of themselves.
Play ball!